Friday, September 30, 2011


Starting Monday the blog will finally make the move to

My attempts to start a web magazine about building community through personal development at that address has been waylaid by time and scheduling conflicts with the writers.

I will be looking for a few other bloggers to help share the space, so if you write on topics of personal growth, compassion, community or personal finance and would like to join up with drop me an email at

The content at the new site will not vary that greatly from The Ashes at first. The main reason for the change is the switch to WordPress and the need for a change.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Live That Way

The point of yesterday's post was to fight back against this idea I have seen a lot lately: the idea that we are not special, that we are just like everyone else, or as it is usually put, we are not unique snow flakes.

For me this attitude degrades the human condition. We are unique snowflakes, special, different and living lives with there own triumphs and challenges. And just because everyone is special does not in anyway reduce the importance of our own specialness.

However, with being special comes a burden. We have to live up to who we are. We have to be willing to question the rules of the world that seem to conflict with our values and the supposed values of the community we live in.

If we are special we must live that way.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Drivers' Seat

When the world seems too big to challenge -
When we feel small and insignificant -
When we feel put down -
All those feelings make it easy to shake a fist at the world and say it should be different. When we feel small it is equally easy to turn away and say, 'who am I to question the way the world works?'

The real question is, who are you not to?

We bear a responsibility to question authority, both official and social, when it works to make the world a worse place for people to live.

We have the responsibility to hold the government and the media accountable for the lies they tell and the promises they break.

We also bear the burden of standing up for those who make wise choices.

And we have to look after each other.

We are our community, we are our government, we are our culture. With out us there is nothing.

Who are we to question the way the world works?

We are the only ones who can.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Balanced Quirky

Success does not come from trying to be something we are not. Success comes from becoming the person we want to be. This definition of self has to come from inside and not from outside. This means we have to know our self if we are going to know what we want.

This is just the beginning. Once we know what we want we have to be able to protect that identity. By this I mean we have to be able to stay true to who we are and what we believe and what we want in the face of the cultural norm.

At the same time we have to stay functional within our culture. In other words we have to be our self if we are going to be happy, but we have to agree to work within the social conventions of the society we inhabit.

This is the tight rope between quirky and ostracized, the balance between unique and unemployable. This is a balance we have to strive for.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Me Day

Today is my 'me day.'

What does this mean? Simply put, I plan on working on several personal projects I have not been able to give enough time to lately. I'll spend time with my cat and maybe do some gaming later.

It is time for a nice quite day, no busing across town, no long hikes, just some time to remember what it is that I work hard for everyday.

In other words today is all about having some personal time. When all we do is work to change ourselves, to make money or to get good grades, we don’t give ourselves time to enjoy what we have accomplished. Even if it is only for a few hours a day or one day a week we need the time to just be who we are.

Today is that day for me. When is yours?

Friday, September 23, 2011

G+? Facebook?

I would like to take a moment today to talk about G+ and Facebook. The two look similar on a first glance but are very different below the surface.

Facebook lets you connect with people you know, and until recently only let you friend people by mutual consent.

G+ on the other hand allows you to watch the public activity of any one you want.

This difference is subtle but it puts a value on being interesting. On G+ if you say interesting things or create good content you get a following.

This encourages people to be polite, engaging, and interesting, and if you are these things you will be rewarded with attention.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Balancing Comfort and Discomfort

Personal growth comes from a balance of comfort and discomfort.

Comfort is important because we are not striving to grow just to make ourselves miserable. But the process of growing can be painful because we have to look at the parts of our lives where we don't feel successful. It is important to make time to feel good, to focus on the things in life we enjoy.

However, when we retreat to that nest of comfort we are not growing. To grow we need to move beyond where we are comfortable and challenge ourselves.

This is the balance we need to seek, the balance between the moments of rest and the moments of work.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Dispense With the Notion of Fair

If we expect that we will be treated fairly we will be disappointed. The notion of fair is a fallacy, or perhaps a better statement would be that fair is the social equivalent of the problems given to first year physics students.

In these problems students are told to set aside any factors that complicate the problems such as friction. This is done to allow the student to understand the concept. When we worry about things being fair, we disregard the differences in given situations.

When we see someone getting the things we want we often look at how we are qualified and they are not. Like the physics student disregarding friction, we disregard the other factors. We don't see their skills or connections.

When we worry about the things we are not getting, all we get is jealous.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Let's take a moment and look at accountability. When we hear that someone will be held accountable for their actions we tend to think in terms of punishment.

This us not what personal accountability is about. Personal accountability involves being responsible for our actions both good and bad. It means acknowledging that we are not perfect. It also can mean asking others to help us keep to the course we wish to follow.

Monday, September 19, 2011

A Middle Way

I have promised that I was going to be doing more opinion writing here. This is the first installment.

We have reached a point in society where we have institutions that are too big to fail. This is not to say that these institutions are incapable of failing. The last few years of economic turmoil have taught us this. However these institutions are so thoroughly integrated into our notion of normal everyday life that if they did collapse we would have to drastically change how we do everything else.

With the hardships and tribulations brought about by tough economic times it can often feel that individually we are too small to succeed. The rich have the money. We do not. The companies have the resources. We do not. The lobbyists have control of the government. We do not.

So here we stand in the fields just outside the township of the world as we know it looking at the slowly teetering giants held in place by rickety scaffolding. We are waiting for them to fall and crush our homes. We feel powerless to do anything to stop it.

However, there is a middle way, a path between the dangerously large and the ineffectually small. At the heart of this middle way is the community, both the communities created by common interests and those created by shared locality. Communities understand what it is they need, what problems they face and through discussion they can find solutions to deal with them.

There is a major road block along the middle way. It is not alack of resources. People who truly want to solve problems will find the tools necessary to solve them. It is not a lack of intelligence. The people on the street know where their suffering comes from. What it is, is fear. Fear keeps us from knowing our neighbor, from building a sense of community and from shouldering their burdens as our own. We have to be taught by shootings and kidnappings, by gang violence and by Kitty Genovese that our neighbors do not care about us. This is what needs to change.

The only place this can change is in our own hands and in our hearts. The way we treat our neighbors, the moments we take to stop and chat on a street corner, the sharing of joy and pain are the way we build community. It is not alright to wait for others to reach out to us. We bear the same responsibilities to act that they do.

When we have communities that are willing to work together to solve their shared problems, we have people who can change the world. Communities trusting their small local banks can reduce the impact of large corporate banking entities, the ones that are too big to fail. Communities who know their local elected representatives can have a voice equal to the lobbyists. Communities that look out for each other may not be rich but they will be able to meet there needs.

We can stand and watch the giants fall or we can turn to our neighbor and start building a new world.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Weekend Challenge: Find Time for Yourself

Life is hectic. We run in circles between commitments, job and school, friends and family.

We have to remember to make time for our selves. That is the challenge this weekend: find the time to do the things that let you clear your head.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Don't be a Victim

We have to be able to give up being victims.

When we get in a bad situation, we can quit and say, "Oh well, the university hates me. Poor me.

Or we can stop making excuses and do something to change our situation.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Shifting Gears

Some days get away from us. If we do not allow ourselves to have the flexibility to adapt to days like that we miss opportunities.

When we set our schedule in stone and refuse to deviate we cannot adapt. The ability to shift gears and the willingness to take on more are important skills to develop if we want to succeed.

Doing more then the minimum is important. However, we need to remember not to do more just to be doing. We need to make sure we take on projects that move us forward.

We cannot control when opportunities will present themselves, but we can be willing to accept them when they appear.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

What Makes a Good Opinion

Yesterday I mentioned I was going to focus more on writing opinions. But what is opinion writing? More importantly, what makes a good opinion?

When writing a good opinion you need to do more then rant. It is not enough to just say what you think.

A good opinion is backed by facts and supported by examples. A good opinion presents an argument.

A good opinion story is a feature story about an idea.

Monday, September 12, 2011


Hi Folks:

Since the school year has started again that means it is production time at the Oak Leaf. This means my time here today is limited. That said I wanted to let you know I have become bored with Up From the Ashes. In my own journey I am at a point where there is work to be done, but it is the same work I have been doing that I need to accomplished over time. I could keep talking about the same things here but this gets old.

I want to start sharing my views, my opinions and my feelings about things that are going on the world. In journalism opinion writing is my favorite sort of work, and I want a place to showcase that. So look for changes coming in the days ahead.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Weekend Challenge: See the Light

It can be easy to get distracted by the things we do not have. This challenge for this weekend is to see/look for the things we do have.

Find the light no matter how dark things seem.

Find the things that are more than nothing, and look to see how those things can be built into something more. See how they can be the foundation for a plan to build the life you want.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

No Stopping

Planing is good. Starting is necessary. Finishing is critical.

It is easy to sit and plan, to say what we need to do. We can dream our dreams and say how we will achieve them, but all this means nothing if we do not take action.

To take action we have to start doing what we say we will do. We can work, we can push and we can make things happen but if we hit a wall and stop it means nothing.

If we do not follow through, if we do not see our work through to the end, there is no point in planning, no point in starting. If you are going to start you need to be prepared to finish.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Almost Overload

So I think I may be making progress. In the past I have had a problem with taking on too much. I may have finally figured out how to say no or to save things for latter.

Right now I have a day job that is taking up 32 hours of my week. School takes another 30 (in theory). Then I still have to find time to work on paying writing assignments, get back to work on The Mighty Us, participate in an online writers group and work on a game I am developing.

All this has me balancing on the point of overload. The trick is not adding anything more to the pile.

All I have to do is remember to say no.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


On those days when we feel overwhelmed and sad, we have to find a way to break ourselves free. We have to push ourselves to action or the hole we dug for ourselves will only get deeper.

When we feel like this it can be hard to find the energy to do anything. All we can do is start small, go for a walk, create something, read. Find something to do, something to distract, something to change were our heads are at.

Once we do this we can't allow ourselves to fall back into stress and worry. We can't live where we wallow in despair.

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Work/Profit Equation

I have said it before but it bears repeating, creating change in your life is hard work.

It being Labor Day it is a good time to talk about hard work. There is only one real motivator for work and that is profit. Whether that profit is monetary, social betterment or personal satisfaction, all the work we do is for profit.

When we decide it is time to change our lives we have to consider how much effort is worth how much profit. How much work is the change worth? These are questions we have to consider for each change we want to make.

The questions we must ask ourselves are what do I want? What is it worth to me?

When we are losing more then we gain, we need to know it and cut and run.

Friday, September 2, 2011


A few days ago Up From The Ashes published its 500th post. To think I have sat down and shared my thoughts, my hopes, my fears, my failures and successes 500 times amazes me.

Every day has been another step closer to becoming who I want to be, learning to be strong, confident and one who dares to dream. I hope these 500 hundred posts have helped you, have offered insight and given you courage.

Remember this is not a place to necessarily be inspired, but to know that you are not alone in looking for ways to change your life. We are doing this together.

What are your struggles? What are your fears? Where have you triumphed? I would love to hear about your journey.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

A Matter of Perception

I am a walker. I enjoy getting around by walking and this affects the way I see the world.

I have a job now that requires me to go to a different city. This means I take the bus.

The bus I catch is not the normal route. It makes fewer stops and swings into a neighborhood most times missed.

Every new driver is sure I am getting on the wrong bus.

But I am a walker and this affects my perception. The next city over is not big, no matter were I would be let off, it would close enough for me.

How does who you are affect how you see the world?